One of the main outcomes of ESPREME was an Integrated Assessment Model (AIM) which allowed estimations of the damage of heavy metals on the base of cost-effectiveness (CEA) and cost-benefit analyses (CBA).
The runs of the AIM compared two scenarios: a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario and a Maximum Feasible Technical Reduction (MFTR). Emissions of different heavy metals (Hg, Cr. Cd, Ni, As, Pb) were estimated in 2010 according to these frameworks, and were classified for different sectors. The obtained emission data were translated into monetary values (damage cost. The additional damage costs (marginal costs) were also calculated.
BAU modelling showed that the Sahara desert was a key source of heavy metals. Lead and Arsenic was demonstrated to have a big economic impact (260 M€ external costs for Arsenic and 420 M€ for lead).Further modelling approaches not only tried to estimate direct exposure but also accumulated exposure to heavy metals by ingestion. The six analysed elements showed great differences regarding the accumulated amount taken in each country. These differences were mainly attributed to national differences in food production, alimentation preferences and import/export ratios. From these simulations, cadmium has been shown to be the highest accumulated. The external costs of ingesting heavy metals were found to range from 20 million to 3.5. Billion euros, with highest damages attributed to arsenic (related to cardiovascular diseases) and lead (due to children’s’ intelligence quotient loss). In economic terms, ingestion of lead can cause about 3.5 billion Euros costs, whereas arsenic and mercury costs amount to more than a billion Euros. Nevertheless, in comparison with inhalation external costs, these values are negligible. With respect to nickel and chromium, a proper dose-response relationship could not be obtained due to the lack of epidemiological data. For the other trace elements, health endpoints covered included cancer, IQ losses, renal dysfunctions, still birth, cardiovascular mortality, anaemia, ataxia and osteoporosis.
When the BAU scenario is compared to the MFTR scenario, it is established that about 27% of the costs can be saved if current damage -reducing techniques are applied. If only the damage cost of reducing emissions is taken into account, in most cases the cost of these techniques is higher than the cost of avoided damage. Nevertheless, most of these techniques not only reduce heavy metals emissions, but also other harmful compounds like particulate matter or greenhouse gases. Among heavy metals abatement techniques, improved dust filters (e.g. electrostatic precipitators), flue gas desulphuration and any strategy for substituting coal and fuel oil use seem promising for achieving an additional environmental benefit.
ESPREME project. «Report on CEA/CBA results for selected HM abatement strategies».